Turns out social media may not be causing as many mental health issues as previously thought

The “Facebook depression panic” in adolescents and teens may be premature, according to a recent study.

Social media use in teens is thought to lead to depression, according to popular understanding. However, that’s not true, according to recent longitudinal data and research published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

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According to recent research, there’s no evidence that social media use predicts later symptoms of depression.

However, in an interesting twist, the same research shows that depressive symptoms predicted higher social media use over time, but only among adolescent girls. The researchers posited that the girls were using social media to make themselves feel better.

The study surveyed junior high school students in Canada once a year for two years. They also surveyed annually undergraduates over a time period of six years. Participants answered questions about depression, how much time daily they spent on social media, looking at screens, and non-screen activities.

Social media was created for many purposes, researchers say, and like anything, its outcomes are complicated.

“There may be different groups of people who use social media for different reasons,” said lead author Taylor Heffer of Brock University, in a release. “For example, there may be a group of people who use social media to make social comparisons or turn to it when they are feeling down, while another group of people may use it for more positive reasons, such as keeping in contact with friends,”